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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Love of Story Welcomes James R. Callan

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming James R. Callan. How did you develop a 'love of story'?
 
First, I love to read.  This probably goes back to my parents who both liked to read.  When I was young, I would hear them reading a story to one another. These things impress a kid.  Later, I read stories by Mark Twain and Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe and loved the way an author could bring me into the story.  It was pretty exciting to a young kid who hadn't been anywhere.

You enjoyed the adventures within the written page. I can relate. :)  So, how did you get started in writing?

I did a little writing in  high school and then, as an English major, wrote more in college. I thought I would write as a career after college. But that didn't support a family. So, I went to graduate school in mathematics, which led to a thirty-five year detour. Then one day I said, "The kids are all out college and self-supporting." With the blessing of my wife, I retired to begin - although a little late - writing.

Better late than never. Now tell us a little about your new novel.

A few years ago, Keystone wanted to run the pipeline through our property.  We objected but in the end, they had eminent domain on their side. When bulldozers cut a swath through our trees one hundred and fifty feet wide and a third of a mile long, I knew I would write a novel dealing with the use of eminent domain by private corporations.  Over My Dead Body is the result.  However, I write murder mysteries, and while there were protests over the pipeline by many people, I don't think anyone was murdered.  So, eminent domain provides the genesis for Over My Dead Body, but I did not use a pipeline as the catalyst.    

 
Syd Cranzler is fighting a large corporation which is taking his land by eminent domain for a new shopping center.  In a heated argument with the company's representative, Syd says he will challenge the ruling in court. The next day,  Syd is found dead from an overdose of his heart medication.  The police rule it suicide. End of story.

Father Frank, Syd's minister, does not believe Syd would commit suicide and works to find some evidence that would get the police to reopen the case. As his investigation begins to make progress, the minister is attacked. Later, he is almost poisoned. Finally, the police are motivated to reopen the case. But, in the end, it is Father Frank who must solve the murder.

I can see where that book came from. How else do you get story ideas?

Life.  Everyday, story ideas are popping up all around - in the newspaper, on TV, in conversations overheard in a restaurant or grocery story, or events in your life.  A three paragraph article in the L.A. Times was the start for my 94,000 word suspense novel due out in 2016. I read an old folk-tale  and wondered how that could affect people today.  The 90,000 word novel A Ton of Gold  answered that.  I see or hear something and then ask the famous author question, "What if ...?"

And that gets the wheels turning. Are you involved in a critique group?

Absolutely. It is difficult to critique your own writing. You need outside people. However, I should add, be sure to select a "good" group, one that actually critiques (not just compliments), one with members who know how to write and understand your genre.

Great advice.  What foods do you eat when writing to keep you going?

 Almost anything sweet, but ice cream is the favorite.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jodie.  It is my pleasure and honor to visit with you and your friends.

I'm glad you stopped by, Jim.

Here's Jim's bio:

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense.  His eleventh book is scheduled to release in 2016.


Be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win a devotional for the New Year.


Monday, December 28, 2015

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Miranda Wimplegate is content with her Boston life, helping out in her family's auction house, which serves wealthy individuals. But when she's partially responsible for a prized portrait being sold by accident, she feels she must do whatever it takes to get it back and avoid financial ruin for her family. She's even willing to travel with her grandfather to the wilds of Missouri to obtain the illusive painting.

Wyatt Ballentine's world is thrown in disarray when his beloved auction house is bought before he has enough money to throw in a bid for it. What he hadn't counted on was having to deal with the eccentric owner and his beautiful granddaughter. He has to decide what is most important in his life.

Regina Jennings book is a delightful tale that draws the reader in. She has a wonderful way of describing things to the reader and providing a portrait of her own making. You won't want to miss out on getting a copy of this book. :)

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House - 2015.


Cleaning House

Turn Your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.
God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast[b] spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:9-11 (HCSB)

M
 I love this photo of a dirty mop. I think it's the perfect example of how we need to clean out all the 'dirt' from this past year.

Perhaps you've been hanging on to bitterness, disappointments, hurts, worry.... the list could go on and on of all the things you've gone through in 2015. I can relate. I've experienced quite a number of things and in fact, I'm still going through some really stressful situations. I admit to some days wanting to stay in bed, pull the covers up and drift away in slumber.

Instead I'm asking the Lord to sweep out all the cobwebs of sins and hurts that have collected and do a thorough cleaning of my heart. I want to start the New Year with a fresh start. Actually I desire that for each day. I'm asking God to create a clean heart within me and renew His Spirit in me.

How are you preparing for the New Year?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Praying you have a blessed Christmas celebrating our Lord, Savior and King.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Love - Advent Series

 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (HCSB)

Because of love. Christ humbled Himself and came to this earth as a baby knowing full well that He would one day die for our sins. He gave up His throne to provide man with the opportunity to restore their relationships with their Heavenly Father. It's only through Him our sins can be forgiven. There is only ONE way to heaven and it's through CHRIST.

L


He came for you. If you've never done so before, perhaps now it's time to accept Him into your heart and allow Him to reign. You won't regret it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Uncontainable Joy - Advent Series

How joyful is the man
the Lord will never charge with sin!
Romans 4:8 (HCSB)
 
 When I think about uncontainable joy I think of a puppy - full of cheer, squirming uncontrollably with excitement and love for their master. There's a chocolate lab puppy that I see from time to time that lives in our neighborhood. Whenever I see him, he's full of joy.

I can't help but feel that's the way we are supposed to be, especially those who have Christ in their hearts. Christmas is a great time to celebrate all Christ has done for us. He has taken our sins away and provides the only way for us to go to heaven.
 
I've been thinking a lot about joy lately. To be honest, it's been a bit elusive. But my prayer is that even in the tough times I will choose to seek joy. Each time I see the chocolate lab puppy, I'll think about my need to be joyful no matter what circumstances I face.

What brings you joy this Christmas season?
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love of Story Welcomes Yvonne Anderson



 
Welcome Yvonne. What a pleasure to have you join us today. How did you develop a 'love of story'?


Some of my earliest memories involve my dad reading to my brother and me. I always thought of books as marvelous wonders, and once I learned to read, I couldn’t get enough of them. 

One day in early elementary school when I was home sick, I’d exhausted every “easy reader” book in the house, so I found a book for older kids that had never interested me before. Boring cover, no pictures, nothing to attract me but an interesting smell and smooth, crisp pages. (If you’re a book lover, you’ll know exactly what I mean.) 

I started reading, and before I knew it, I’d finished the first chapter. This was the first time I’d read a chapter book, and I was inordinately proud of myself. With nothing else to do, I continued reading – and then I read because I was drawn into the story. I couldn’t wait to finish, to see what would happen next (my first experience with “can’t put it down”). The sun sank low, bringing my mom in to turn on the lights while clucking, “You’ll ruin your eyes!” But I kept reading.

And then, at last, I finished it! I was elated for about a second and a half. Then I burst into tears, because that wonderful story was over and I couldn’t read any further.

LOL. I can totally relate and yes I'm a book smeller too. :) What does your writing space look like?

I have an office in a spare bedroom—big oak desk, bookcases, file cabinets, and a nice comfy chair. I’ve done a lot of writing there, but that’s not the only place I write. Before we moved to Western Maryland in 2013, one of my favorite places for writing—weather permitting—was the big front porch of our old farmhouse in rural Ohio. That’s where I wrote almost the entirety of Words in the Wind, the second book in my Gateway to Gannah series.

I love being able to write outdoors too. The old farmhouse sounds like it was a special place. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?

My writing is an offshoot of my faith. It outlines and illumines it, paints a picture of it, transcribes it into words and punctuates it. If not for my faith, I would have nothing to write about.

Well said. What do you plan to work on next?

I’m working on a new sci-fi novel, which is likely to become a series. It’s not set on Gannah, but it’s similar to my first series in that it takes place on a planet that exists only in my imagination. 

Tee hee. Sounds like most writer who have any imaginary world in their heads. :) What is the genre you write in?

This isn’t as easy a question to answer as it sounds, and here’s why: 

I’m told if a story involves space travel, it should be classified as science fiction. But you won’t find much technical or scientific stuff in my Gateway to Gannah series, so that seems a misnomer.
I’d like to call it space fantasy, but it doesn’t have the standard fantasy elements (mythical creatures, characters with special powers), so that’s not quite accurate either.
Space opera? Not enough emphasis on war and battle scenes.
There’s a little romance, but as a seasoning, not the main course.

I’ve settled on this tagline for the series: Fly through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure. I’m satisfied with that description because Gannah is a fun adventure series that gives readers serious things to think about.

I'm intrigued. What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your story?

Each of the four titles in my Gateway to Gannah series has an underlying theme, which I hope readers will pick up on. I wrote Book 1, The Story in the Stars, to illustrate the universality of God’s creative and redemptive power. Book 2, Words in the Wind, points to the authority and reliability of the Scriptures. In Book 3, Ransom in the Rock, I seek to portray the responsibility of the individual to accept the freedom Christ purchased for us. And Book 4, The Last Toqeph, points to the fact that God always keeps His promises, even if it seems a long time coming.

I know I need the reminder from your theme from book four.  How much time do you spend researching before you write?

Because my stories are set in worlds I create in my own mind, the bulk of my research consists of private mental exploration. The more time I spend in these worlds, the better I know them, and I spend months and years in the endeavor (some people call it daydreaming or woolgathering). Before ever writing the first word, I also spend a great deal of time with the characters so I can portray them as multi-dimensional people. This kind of research can be done while I’m doing other things – exercising, doing household tasks, or anything that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. You might say it’s invisible research – no one can see me doing it. Unless they notice my dazed look. Or try to talk to me, and I say, “Huh? Did you say something?”

Chuckle. Is there something about you most people wouldn’t know?

In the early 1980s, my husband and I had a mini-farm. We milked a goat, had chickens for eggs and meat, raised hogs, grew our own vegetables, etc. That didn’t cover everything, but we sold enough of what we produced to cover the cost of what we had to buy. So the bottom line was, we ate for free. My husband’s paying job took care of non-food items, provided us with investment capital, and helped tide us over before our farm’s products were ready to sell.
 
Sounds like it was fun and hard work at the same time. Thanks for stopping by today, Yvonne. Be sure to leave a comment today for your opportunity to be entered into the drawing for this month's mystery gift. Next week we'll be doing something a little different.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Lydia Bancroft loves her job as librarian. She doesn't mind working because it allows her to withdraw into the world of books and to people watch. She especially enjoys observing a mysterious patron who spends time in the reading room. He's way out of her league but she delights in knowing there is a fellow book lover out there even if she doesn't talk to him.

While Sebastian Marks doesn't frequent the same circles as the pretty librarian, he can at least quietly pay attention to her. But when he's in a situation where he witnesses her being maltreated he can't help but become involved in the situation and in her life.

A tangled weave of misconceptions draws them close together and endangers their lives. Will they forge through them together or part ways?

I found Whispers in the Reading Room to be a delightful tale. So much so that I purchased the first book in this series and soon will order the second one too. :) What a joy to come across a new author I haven't read before.

This book was provided free for review by Zondervan - 2015.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Special Welcome to Linda S. Glaz and a Giveaway

Today I have the distinct pleasure of hosting my agent extraordinare, Linda S. Glaz. Her recent novel, Fear Is Louder Than Words released this month. Welcome, Linda. Can you start by telling your readers about a typical day in your life?

Oh, my, really? I start around 8 or 9 am checking emails, facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon for clients’ reviews. Then I look for any pressing issues, and finally go through the new submissions and try to weed out any that don’t fit with what we do as an agency. Most often, authors haven’t followed the agency guidelines to know what we do and don’t handle. Then I read on and work on clients’ proposals and projects until around supper. After supper I do more reads and work on my own writing until 9 or 10. Some days longer, but hey, it comes with the territory.

You put in a LONG day. So you don't fit writing in until late at night because of your other responsibilities. What does your writing space look like?

Eeekkk. Total chaos. But I work well that way!

LOL. As long as it works for you. :) Tell us a little about yourself.

I have to stay active. It’s just in my nature. So I’ve always done “busy” things. Air Force, karate, women’s self-defense, musical theatre, soccer coach and ref, and, of course, raised three amazing kids. Probably the hardest task of all.

I agree. Raising kids is a difficult job. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?

Well, my belief is that if your faith is an everyday thing, it is incorporated in every breath you take. It isn’t a Sunday faith for me, but an everyday thing (most of the time, maybe not when I’m driving) LOL.

Ahh. So I learned something new about you... with driving, that is. Chuckle. What is the farthest place from home that you've traveled?

Spain. We lived there for three years.

Okay, I hadn't realized that one either. :) What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

Romans 8:28. All things work for good…and we have to remember that sometimes those things come as a no from Him. It’s still for our good.

Ouch. That can be a hard lesson. What is the genre you write in?

Romance: historic and suspense

Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?
I always wondered about the life of a conservative talk show host. What I learned was horrendous. They certainly don’t have it easy. Combine that with a magazine article about designer babies, and I had my story.

I had the privilege of reading Linda's story and you won't be able to put it down. Do you have a favorite scene in your newest release?

Yes, the airport in northern Michigan. My heroine is so upset as she kicks her carry-on across the floor, but all of that quickly changes.

I can picture that. :) What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your story?

That nothing is impossible with God.

Amen and thanks for the reminder. How much time do you spend researching before you write?

Depends on the topic. 

:) What qualities do you look for in a hero and heroine?

Lots of sass for her, and deep flaws for him. Isn’t that real life?

Chuckle. That definitely makes a lively story that reader can't put down. What do you plan to work on next?

A suspense about bullying

I can't wait to read it so you'd better get busy writing. :) How long have you've known you're a writer?

Since I wrote my first serious story in middle school. It was AWFUL!

LOL. I can relate. I've wanted to write ever since I was a young girl. How did you develop a 'love of story'?

My whole family loved telling stories and I have always been an avid reader so it came naturally.

I also am an avid reader. Wish I had more time to read.... and write. :) Apart from writing, what is your favorite creative outlet?

Musical theatre.

Sounds like fun. Is there something about you most people wouldn’t know?

I’m a Christmas-aholic!

Me too! If you have a day off, what's your favorite thing to do?

Day off?!?!?!?

LOL. I know you work really hard. What advice would you give to new authors?

Persevere. Never ever quit.

Great reminder. Finally, where can readers connect with you?

http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/
And on Facebook and Goodreads

 Thank you for stopping by today, Linda to tell us a little more about yourself. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this month's surprise giveaway. Also, Linda has graciously offered to give away two copies of her book so be sure to comment.

Tune in next week when Yvonne Anderson is here talking about her writing life and her new novel.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Peace - Advent Series

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (HCSB)

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (KJB)

The theme for the second week of Advent is the word peace. I find it a little ironic in a way. By this time of year, many are caught up in the busyness of the season and aren't experiencing much peace in their lives. I know for myself, it also has been a struggle.

Things occur, that tend for us to lose our sense of peace in the midst of our situations. Perhaps we can't see a light at the end of the tunnel. Instead all we see is a train rushing straight toward us at high speed. We are overwhelmed, weighed down and heavy burdened.
 

I was reminded over the weekend that Jesus first came into this world as the Prince of Peace. I love that it didn't stop there. He went on to offer that same peace to us. All we have to do is ask Him. I don't know about you, but I sure need His peace in my life.

My prayer for you is that you will experience His peace and presence in a very special way this Advent season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Welcome Special Guest Mary Ellis

Happy December! Can you believe 2015 will soon come to an end? It doesn't seem possible. Today I'm delighted to interview, Mary Ellis.


Welcome Mary! How did you develop a 'love of story'?

I think most writers are natural born storytellers. And telling a story is the crux of any novel. But I went to many hands-on workshops and took dozens of classes on creating characters, developing plotlines, and self-editing my work before I produced something publishers would buy and readers would read. I believe authors should continue to hone their craft indefinitely.

In other words, storytelling is in your blood. :) Tell your readers about a typical day in your life.

I’m an early bird, so I’m usually up by 6:00 am. During coffee and breakfast, I read the paper and a chapter or two of fiction. Then I do 15 minutes of stretching exercises, say my prayers, and head to my office around 8:30 each morning, 5 days a week. I work till around 4:00 or 5:00, with an hour off to walk my dog and eat lunch. I must stay regimented or I won’t meet deadlines. But I absolutely love writing, so those hours are (usually) enjoyable. I usually spend Saturdays with family and friends (I love going to the movies!) and use Sunday for going to church and centering my thoughts. If I don’t I lose perspective and worry about everything!

I'm sure keeping a schedule and being disciplined helps you to stay on target. Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?



My latest book, Midnight on the Mississippi, is set in New Orleans, LA. I fell in love with that city years ago while my mother in law was living on the panhandle of Florida. My husband and I have been back a dozen times to research and to simply enjoy the European, old world atmosphere.

Research trips are fun. :) What does your writing space look like?

Since we seldom get overnight guests, my guest room is also my office. I have a lovely Amish-made desk, a comfortable chair, plenty of light, and a view of my wooded yard. But my favorite place to write is my screened-in porch. It overlooks a ravine where I often see wild turkeys, deer, and an occasional fox. Unfortunately, Ohio weather only allows for outdoor writing six months of the year. We just packed away the porch furniture yesterday.

I can just imagine your Amish-made desk. The Amish are prevalent here in PA, and they do incredible workmanship. Your writing spot sounds peaceful. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?

I can’t imagine starting my day without bowing my head in prayer first. God is responsible for any success I have enjoyed. His Holy Spirit sits in my heart, guiding my creative process. When I neglect my prayers and quiet meditation, I stumble and struggle, yet when I give credit where credit is due, I thrive and produce.

I know what you mean. Prayer and time with the Lord first thing each morning helps to guide my day as well. Where do you get ideas?

Usually from travelling to where I wish to set a story. People are influenced by where they live. Even within the same state I find mountain residents different from those living on the coast. I usually research and outline for a solid month before I start a new book. Since currently I’m working on book 3 of the series, I just came home from Natchez and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where I discovered plenty of plot twists. Magnolia Moonlight will release in the fall of 2016.


It sounds like it was a fun trip. I'm sure your readers eagerly await the next installment. Tell us a little about yourself.

I married my college sweetheart six days after graduation with a BS in Education and taught school for 10 years. After we brought a house close to Ohio’s famous Amish country, I began writing while working as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. I wrote for at least six years before finding my current agent and publisher. Since then I’ve written 12 Amish and 3 historical romances. Since my favorite books are mysteries, I’ve begun a new series for Harvest House Publishers called Secrets of the South Mysteries. Midnight on the Mississippi is first in the series and What Happened on Beale Street, set in Memphis, will release in March of 2016. I love to connect with readers at: www.maryellis.net or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

I chuckled when I read your responses because I married my college sweetheart a week after graduation, also with a BS in Education. :) It sounds like we lived close, at least for a while since I spent a lot of years in Hershey too. Thanks again for sitting down with us today. I wish you the best with your writing endeavors.


Leave a comment for your chance to win a mystery gift this month.